Zeus faber (Linnaeus, 1758)
A freshly caught specimen, measuring 18,6 cm of (TL) length
Photo of the skull of a Z. faber, which is measuring 6,6 cm. The specimen had a body weight of about 1,2 kg
This is a photo of the upper jaw of the same specimen. Note the canine teeth of a successful predator
The upper and lower jaw of the same specimen, which indicates the predatory nature of the animals. Photos by MCH/Andreas I. Iliopoulos
The name of the genus indicates the father and leader of gods. The bizarre looking animals are found at depths between 5 m 50 m, but they also occur deeper between 150 m to 400 m. They live solitary at mid waters, while as juveniles may form loose groups during summer months, over rocky substrata with vegetation and they are carnivores preying upon schooling fishes and occasionally on invertebrates (especially cephalopods and crustaceans). They approach their natural prey (herrings for instance) very slowly and carefully and suddenly they burst and engulf the unaware with their large mouths.
The animals may live twelve years in the wild and they may grow up to a maximum (TL) length of 90 cm, although usually they do not overgrow the half of that length. They may reach a body weight of 3 kg to 20 kg in extreme cases. It is evaluated as excellent food fish and it reaches high prizes in the fish markets of the examined area.
After the 3rd or 4th year of their life (measuring about 25 cm), are ready to reproduce. They probably spawn throughout winter months and their eggs are pelagic and their larvae develop planktonic.
It is an unmistakable and very compressed animal with the first rays of the dorsal extended as a crest and a distinctive dark blotch with one light and another dark ring on its perimeter, at each lateral side. The animals bear a course of round plates along the base of the dorsal fin equipped with two triangular and very sharp protrusions each (known as scutes).
A really impressive animal for keeping it in captivity and this has been done successfully in Public Aquaria facilities of southern Europe.